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No national consensus in sight

March 20th, 2013

A conservative columnist turned critic of the right-wing government thinks the majority of Hungarians are not very sensitive to the infringement of their democratic rights. They experience politics, he writes, as a form of ’tribal hatred’, and concludes that the demise of the present government is unlikely to come from mass movements.

György Balavány, formerly a popular pundit on the right who now writes for the liberal HVG, thinks anti-government demonstrations are running out of steam:  on March 15th (the traditional high point of the demonstration season and the occasion of fifty-thousand strong rallies in previous years)  ‘the revolution was cancelled due to weather conditions.’ The government is not about to be toppled because of its Fourth Amendment (see BudaPost March 9th and March 11th), he says, and even if it was, the underlying problems would remain intact. Hungarian politics, he argues, is built on strong group-affiliations and no real dialogue is possible, since the left is accused of destroying tradition, family values and betraying national interests while the right is accused of antidemocratic values, stupidity and racism. ‘Even a minimal consensus is out of reach’, he writes, ’not even words have the same meaning over here and over there’. Meanwhile, people look for an appropriate saviour/leader on the left as much as on the right. Prime Minister Orbán understands and speaks this language, but Balavány thinks it is a safe bet that Mr Orbán’s regime will one day collapse. Such a collapse will not be a triumph, ends the author on a resigned note, but it will offer an opportunity for the young, unencumbered by the communist past, to start anew.

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